THE PEOPLE OF IHIAGWA IN OWERRI WEST L.G.A OF IMO STATE OF NIGERIA.
The Ihiagwa people are an Igbo speaking ethnic-group in the South-Eastern part of Nigeria, West Africa. This people who number about ten thousand (10,000) are easily identified among the Oratta people of Owerri in Imo State of Nigeria West Africa.
They are located at Latitude-5N, Longitude 7E, Altitude 156m (Altitude 511ft) and 12km south from the Owerri capital territory. This people are grouped into an autonomous community otherwise called Ihiagwa autonomous community.
The Ihiagwa autonomous community is a University town in the Owerri west local government area with headquarters’ in Umuguma Owerri, Imo State in Nigeria, West Africa. The town Ihiagwa as earlier said is located about 12km south from Owerri Capital territory, in the heart of the Oratta clan. It is bounded on the North by Nekede, on the South by Eziobodo and Okolochi, on the East by Obibi and on the West by Obinze. The town Ihiagwa Autonomous community is organized into eight villages namely ; Iriamogu village, Ibuzo village, Nnkaramochie village, Umuezeawula village, Aku/Umuokwo village, Mboke village, Umuelem village and Umuchima village. Ihiagwa is also home to the Federal University of Technology, Ihiagwa.
These eight villages are grouped around the ancient market place of the Ihiagwa people i.e. the Nkwoukwu Ihiagwa market. Also this territory of the Ihiagwa people has been a cultural, Political, and Social religious community before the advent of the British colonial imperialist in Nigeria. Furthermore, the unity of this territory has stood against historical changes and this shaped a distinct social, cultural, political and Religious system which was unique in the pre-British and post -British eras in Nigeria.
It is also worth mentioning that the citizenship of this autonomous community is strictly restricted to the aforementioned villages. The neighboring communities such as mentioned above have never been and is not part of Ihiagwa autonomous community, and their citizens never been known as Ihiagwa citizens.
Infact, the citizens of this nearby autonomous communities, will vehemently oppose the idea of being called an Ihiagwa indigene and Ihiagwa on the other hand has never tried to assimilate them as Ihiagwa indigenes.
Hence this Ihiagwa autonomous Community has existed from days of yore and has never been an appendage of any autonomous community except perhaps in the circumstance of her membership of the Oratta clan.
So, it is worth mentioning that the Ihiagwa people are also referred to as the Aguzieafors i.e. the calendar keepers. This means in those pre-British times the Ihiagwa were responsible for keeping the calendar of the surrounding communities and also had the duty of alerting the surrounding communities of the date for the new yam festival and also other dates.
THE HISTORY OF SOME OF THE VILLAGES THAT MAKE UP IHIAGWA AUTONOMOUS COMMUNITY:
Amongst the many villages that make up Ihiagwa autonomous community is
MBOKE VILLAGE: This village is situated on the right side of the road on coming from Owerri through Nekede. It is the village on the boundary between Ihiagwa and several other communities such as Obinze etc. Hence the Name Mboke i.e. Mba bi n’oke.Literally meaning The people resident on the boundary.
It is also said that it is the Mboke people that led the people to war during those warring days of the Ihiagwa people hence they are the warlords. It is on one of such warring conquests that their fore fathers’ met with Oparaogu one of the deities in Ihiagwa who assisted them to win a war and thereafter came to live with them.